Angels' fierce rally in Bronx falls short
Yankees' early damage against Pineiro proves costly
NEW YORK -- It was, as Torii Hunter put it, "something out of a movie. I don't think I've ever seen that before."
This made-for-Broadway script had an unhappy ending for the Angels, who were subdued, 10-6, in a Wednesday matinee by the Yankees. But it made Colin Curtis a hero for a day in Gotham.
Coming off the bench in the seventh inning to pinch-hit with an 0-2 count against Scot Shields after Brett Gardner had been ejected for disputing a called strike, Curtis timed a full-count fastball and lifted it into the seats in right field for a three-run homer in front of 47,521 Yankee Stadium witnesses.
"You hit it, you see it go out, it's the first in your career and it's in a big situation," Curtis said. "It was exciting. Obviously, you want to try to get the guy in from third. I was in a hole from the beginning. Fortunately, I got in a good count and got a good pitch to hit.
"That was the thrill of a lifetime."
Curtis' first Major League home run was the final salvo in a boisterous affair that produced 30 hits evenly distributed to the two sides. The Angels had 29 hits in two games, taking the first one with 10 runs before the Yankees matched that production to salvage the series.
"Everybody's hitting," Angels leadoff man Erick Aybar said, having drilled three hits. "Me and Howie [Kendrick] are getting on base, the power hitters are coming through. We're working together at the right time."
The Angels are on their way to Texas for a four-game series that Wednesday's starter, Joel Pineiro, described as "not big -- huge" after he'd watched his seven-game win streak end under a barrage of Yankees hits across six innings of struggles.
"It was completely the opposite" of his first start this season at Yankee Stadium, Pineiro said, recalling how he'd handcuffed the Bronx Bombers on one run and five hits in seven innings on April 14. "Everything was down that day, and everything was up today.
"Against a potent lineup like that, they're going to make you pay. Everything was down -- my curveball, changeup, slider, even my sinker. I battled, and the team came back, but it was a little too late."
Pineiro yielded six earned runs on 11 hits in six innings, with two intentional walks to Robinson Cano and five strikeouts.
Javier Vazquez (8-7) claimed the win while yielding five earned runs in five-plus innings. Yankees manager Joe Girardi made extensive use of his deep bullpen to keep the Angels at bay after they'd rallied to make New York perspire.
"I think we're starting to see a little more offense produce a deeper lineup, and we're going to need it," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
"I think we swung the bats well in both games. After we got back in it today, those guys made some pitches to get out of jams."
The Angels left the bases loaded in the sixth and seventh innings, going 4-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
The Yankees broke open a one-run game in the seventh against Shields. Juan Miranda banged his third homer, a solo shot. With two on, Gardner was tossed by home-plate umpire Paul Emmel, and here came Curtis, not exactly a household name even in baseball-crazed New York.
"I tried to throw it for a strike but left it out over the plate, up," Shields said of Curtis' decisive blow. "Both home runs were on fastballs."
The Yanks looked to be on their way to a blowout when they scored four times in the third inning against Pineiro (10-7) and added a run in the fourth, taking a 6-0 lead into the fifth with Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira combining to go 8-for-9.
But the Angels suddenly stirred to life.
Juan Rivera doubled leading off, and Kevin Frandsen singled him home. Working the count full, catcher Bobby Wilson lifted his second career homer into the seats in left field, halving the deficit. Vazquez got through the inning, but he couldn't get an out in the sixth.
After Hunter doubled to the right-center-field gap leading off, Hideki Matsui lifted his second homer in as many days and 12th of the season to right-center, making it a one-run game.
David Robertson replaced Vazquez and left the bases loaded when Kendrick lined out on a full count to right field after singles by Frandsen and Aybar.
Hunter singled with one out in the seventh against Boone Logan and stole second against Joba Chamberlain. But the big right-hander left the bases loaded when he retired Frandsen on a grounder to Alex Rodriguez at third.
Scioscia resisted going to Maicer Izturis for the lefty vs. righty matchup against Chamberlain, holding Izturis back to hit for Wilson if Frandsen kept the inning going.
"I thought Frandsen and Izzy was going to be better than Izzy and Bobby," Scioscia said. "Kevin's swinging the bat as well as anybody. He rolled over a fastball a little bit."
Izturis, who'd driven in three runs in his return to the lineup on Tuesday night with a homer and single, lined a single as a pinch-hitter leading off the eighth, scoring on Bobby Abreu's infield out after Kendrick's double.
Pineiro struggled out of the chute, Jeter's single, Teixeira's double and Rodriguez's infield out producing a first-inning run. Jeter's single, Swisher's double, Teixeira's two-run single and Cano's two-run homer made it 5-0 in the third. Cano is 9-for-14 in his career against Pineiro.
An RBI double by Teixeira in the fourth followed singles by Jeter and Swisher.
The Angels will turn to ace Jered Weaver in Thursday night's opener against the Rangers' Cliff Lee in Texas.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.